This Is What Adoption Feels Like
PROS: Adopting from foster care can be much less costly than either
domestic or international adoption — in some cases, free. State agencies
usually don't charge fees for adoption from foster care, although some private
agencies do. And all states have adoption-assistance programs designed to help
parents recoup costs (such as legal fees) involved with adopting from foster
care. Find out more from the fact sheet "Adoption Assistance for Children
Adopted from Foster Care," available online (go to childwelfare.gov and
type the publication's title in the search box).
CONS: Dealing with state foster-care bureaucracies can be
frustrating, and many children in foster care have special medical or physical
needs. You can learn more about foster adoption at adoptuskids.org.
More than 20,000 children a year are adopted by U.S. families from a wide range
of countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America. The foreign
adoption landscape has undergone some significant changes lately. Though China
has been Americans' top choice — 6,500 Chinese children came into U.S. homes in
2006 — that number is expected to drop, thanks to stricter regulations now in
place there. (For instance, a couple must be married for five years to adopt
from China if either partner has previously been divorced.) By contrast,
Ethiopia is seeing an increase in adoptions, thanks in part to a relatively
speedy process — sometimes just six months, following approval from U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services.
PROS: You don't have to wait for the birth parents to "pick"
you — your adoption follows a standard process established by the country
you're adopting from. Many people feel more comfortable adopting
internationally rather than risking the heartbreak of a failed match
domestically. There are many countries that U.S. citizens adopt from, so if one
country's policies or requirements don't work for you, another one's might.
CONS: The cost can be high, ranging from $7,000 to more than $30,000.
A country's adoption relationship with the United States can also
"close," temporarily or permanently, sometimes without much warning —
as what happened with Vietnam, which closed adoptions to the United States
between 2003 and 2005, and reopened in 2006.
Lydia Kirkham, 34, and her husband, Mike, 38, both legal professionals,
live just outside Kansas City, MO. Their 2-year-old daughter, Addison, who
loves to "play soccer," go on hikes, and feed her cat, was adopted at
birth in a semi-open domestic adoption.
"Mike and I spent nearly five years trying to get pregnant — first on
our own, then with a total of nine intrauterine insemination and in vitro
fertilization cycles. It took a toll on me and my body, and it was so
discouraging. It was the biggest relief when we decided to adopt.